From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
Britain’s Gordon Brown & Sierra Leone’s Ernest Koroma
By Citizens’ Advocate
Oct 14, 2009, 17:30

There is a difference between the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown and President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma. The former would apologise if his aides smear the opposition  or media; even if inadvertently done. Such insulting conduct is so unconscionable to Gordon Brown that no-one needs to tells the aide to resign if caught in such antics. In the case of President Koroma, his aides seem to have free mandate to rudely insult for no legitimate cause; resignation doesn’t seem to be in their vocabulary.

Tomorrow, October 15
th 2009, Dr. Sylvia Blyden will be appearing once again in court under Section 32 of the Public Order Act over the matter of her newspaper’s publication that raised alarm over a false presentation that was done all over Kailahun including over the Government-operated SLBS Kailahun Radio Station. She is charged with “Publishing False News” but the Manager of the Government Station who repeatedly made a false announcement about a May 15th 2009 arrival in Kailahun, was not charged with false news though what he had repeatedly broadcast was patently false news to fool people of Kailahun.

However, it should be noted, that if you search the entire article for which Blyden was dragged to court and for which a nation-wide, shoot-to-kill, police manhunt was issued for her person, you will not see her name anywhere in the article. If you turn to the Imprint of the newspaper, the name Sylvia Blyden is nowhere there. The former Editor, Abdul Karim Kabia’s name is there. 

President Ernest Bai Koroma Has a Press Secretary who keeps subjecting the Presidency to embarrassment & ridicule

However, although her name was nowhere in that publication, the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has seen it fit to identify her as someone who should be held responsible for anything that is published in Awareness Times Newspaper. AND THEY ARE RIGHT!

I say they are right because the fact of the matter is that the Laws of Sierra Leone, especially the Criminal Libel Section V of the Public Order Act clearly identifies that, not only Sole Proprietors but even shareholders of a limited liability company can face the music if defamatory material is alleged to be published in a media owned by the shareholder’s company.

Now, if Sylvia Blyden can be identified by the Ernest Bai Koroma Government as a person to be charged to court because of an article that appears in her newspaper written by someone else, I see no reason why Sheka Tarawalie should be held exempt from criminal or other liability for anything that appears in his Torchlight Newspaper especially as he openly and brazenly shadow-edits the newspaper at 17 Bathurst Street!

A search at Roxy Building offices of  Administrator & Registrar-General and at the Independent Media Commission shows Sheka Tarawalie, his wife, Rose Tarawalie and one Mohamed Sesay to be the Proprietors of The Torchlight Newspaper. A further search at the Independent Media Commission show that the license to publish was given to SHEKA TARAWALIE which means he is to be held responsible for anything published. The Editor is a mere hireling who can be hired and fired at will but the license to publish is sacrosanct. It was given to Sheka Tarawalie and not to any hired editor. Infact, Tarawalie has hired and fired quite a few editors relative to the time he has operated the newspaper.

Sylvia Blyden says when she spoke with President Koroma on this issue some few months back, he did not seem to understand that, under Sierra Leone Criminal Laws and under Internationally recognised Civil Defamatory Laws, Sheka Tarawalie, as Proprietor, is legally responsible for all publications  of  Torchlight paper.

Another point to be noted today is that President Koroma, unlike the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, seems to be lacking in understanding the dangerous effect of having foolish aides who open literary fire fights with the Fourth Estate or engage in smears against the Opposition. Aides to a President should never make themselves the news. A matured Presidential Aide is discreet and keeps well away from controversy but this our Presidency has an interesting way of doing things.

Our Presidency has allowed Sheka Tarawalie to open unnecessary firefights with members of the opposition and members of the Media. Our President has watched as Sheka Tarawalie placed rude, graphic pornographic material on the official State House website to smear people. This, is in sharp contrast to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who recently apologized profusely to journalists and members of the British Opposition when an email correspondence of one of his Top Advisers, Damian McBride, was inadvertently leaked and found to contain plans to defame critics of Gordon Brown. Damian McBride did not wait to be told what to do. He quickly resigned as he was aware of the ignoble calumny his leaked email had brought upon the honoured seat of his Boss.

Here in Sierra Leone, a mere aide (not even a top adviser) like Sheka Tarawalie is still kept at State House after, in June 2008, he deliberately  sent out an email that contained nefarious attacks on both the Opposition (John Benjamin) and the Fourth estate (Sylvia Blyden). That is why, now he surely thinks he can attack the British  people, our largest donors, and get away with it as he is a Law unto himself!!

What President Koroma should realize and what the genuine advisers of this President should quickly alert him to, is the fact that with an ailing economy, a social system in shambles and high  discontent in the land with the current polity, what he least needs right now is aides engaging in needless controversial exchanges with the Fourth Estate; especially with savvy, experienced, thick-skinned ones like Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden. 

As THE SENATOR NEWSPAPER rightly states, Sylvia Blyden is her own Master; self-employed and fiercely independent. A President is also expected to be his own Master.  If a Master has a servant who is causing embarrassment, he gets rid of him. The question now is whether President Koroma is really his own Master? Or a hostage to unseen hands of invisible goblins like Ronshos?

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.